By Andrew Joseph, Features EditorAutomation Converting Hewlett-Packard Montebello Packaging Rotoflex
For North American consumers, packaging tubes offer a nice playful, squeezable alternative to the more mainstream packaging formats typically crowding the store-shelves of most leading retail outlets in this part of the world. But if the folks at Montebello Packaging have their way, these supremely functional, versatile and time-tested packages are nicely poised to gain plenty of critical mass appeal and popularity in the years to come.
Founded in 1952 in the small Quebec village of Montebello under the banner of Montebello Metal—a moniker the company kept until the early 1980s despite moving its manufacturing operations to Hawkesbury, Ont., in 1966—the company today ranks as one of the largest privately-owned producers of collapsible aluminum and laminate tubes in North America, employing nearly 400 employees at manufacturing facilities in Hawkesbury and Lachine, Que., as well as at a U.S.-based factory in Kentucky.
Operating as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Great Pacific Enterprises Inc., Montebello appears to be making optimal use of the combined 300,000 square feet of manufacturing space at its disposal—enjoying widespread industry respect and reputation as a world-class manufacturer of collapsible aluminum and laminate tubes, ink markers and aluminum aerosol cans, according to marketing and sales coordinator Meghann Bennett.
“We manufacture products for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, dentifrice, household, industrial and food markets mainly for Canada and the U.S., but the company has also began to make inroads into both the European and Asian markets,” Bennett told Canadian Packaging in a recent interview.
“We make all kinds of tubes for ointments, pastes, creams, gels, hair-dye, toothpaste and grease, and have even recently started filling our tubes with such sticky products as maple syrup, liquid sugar-cane and honey.
“We also strive to maintain our position as a quality niche products manufacturer,” adds Bennett, “by producing such items as tubing for markers and cigar humidors.”
Last year, relates Bennett, the company formed a new division, called Monfitello, which is dedicated specifically to the development and marketing of tube packages for the food industry—hoping to push the concept beyond its NASA-type associations more to the level of acceptance that tubes enjoy in the European packaged-food markets.
Bennett says that all the design and manufacturing work on Montebello’s products begins in earnest only after the company has conducted lengthy meetings with the clients, during which the tube-maker provides advice and suggestions in regards to the product’s construction and critical tolerances for wall and neck characteristics, coatings, sealing and annealing, aka “metal flexibility” in industry jargon.